You’ve probably heard the same meal prep tips over and over again, and my guess is they probably overwhelm you more than actually help you.
Time and time again, people tell me that just the thought of planning feels like a lot, and that’s before they’ve even stepped foot in the kitchen! I want to empower you and prepare you to conquer meal planning and prepping to help making healthy choices easier.
I’m sharing how to save time and money in the kitchen with five meal prep tips you’ve probably never heard before.
It’s no secret that meals made at home are going to be your best option when prioritizing your health. So why does it always seem so daunting?
If you’ve visited my Instagram lately, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to meal prep (ahem, for other people). Each week I share a behind-the-scenes glance at FitLiving Eats Winter Park to show you the kinds of recipes that are best for meal prepping.
After countless hours spent in the kitchen, both for my own personal meal prep over the years and more recently, the private chef services I offer, I’ve picked up on some key tips for saving time and money in the kitchen.
5 Meal Prep Tips from a Culinary Professional
Create a meal prep binder.
Organization is key for successful meal prep. For every meal prep session, I recommend collecting a few recipes from cookbooks or blogs and printing them out, creating a shopping list, and writing down a prep plan before prep day. I’m a huge fan of doing it once and using it multiple times, which is why creating a master meal prep binder has been a game change for me and can be for you, too.
Curious to see how I do it? Check out this Instagram post where I go through detailed directions of how to create your own master meal prep binder from the supplies needed to how to organize your dividers.
Identify your personal formula.
What kind of meals do you like to eat? How are your favorite recipes prepared – stove, oven, assembly? These questions play into identifying your personal meal prep formula. For example, my personal formula (for one person) is this: a soup, mason jar salads, main dish and extra (muffins, energy bites, overnight oats, etc). For my private chef clients who need more meals, I usually add in another main dish and extra.
Your personal formula ensures multitasking efficiency during prep, as well as a variety of meals for the week. With my personal formula above, I know that I can get the soup cooking, then work on the main and extra, then assemble the salads while everything is cooking. That way, I’m not wasting time by waiting for a meal to finish cooking before starting my next recipe.
Related post: 5 Step Plan to Master Modern Meal Prep
Pick a culinary theme for the week.
Tired of having to get a million ingredients at the store (which can be overwhelming and expensive)? Pick a theme and add variety within it. Italian, Asian and Mexican are all crowd-favorite cuisines that can offer a wide range of dishes.
Sample themed meal prep plans:
- Italian: Tuscan veggie detox soup, antipasto mason jar salads, hearty mushroom walnut bolognese, overnight oats
- Asian: Coconut chickpea curry, mushroom cashew lettuce cups, Asian quinoa power bowl, zesty lemon energy bites
- Mexican: lightened up white bean chili, lentil walnut tacos, Mexican cobb salad (turned into a mason jar salad), chunky monkey banana bread muffins (okay fine, not Mexican, but so delicious!)
Anyone else remember the cooking show called Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee on the Food Network? I can totally get on board with this (except in my own simply swapped version way). A huge time saver when prepping for clients is to semi-prep some of the recipes. For example, if I make lasagna or my black bean spinach enchiladas, I will prep them up until the point of baking. This cuts down on overall time and tastes more fresh when baked on demand. Another great semi-prep idea is my infamous salmon parchment packs (check out the cooking tutorial, here).
Related Post: Master Power Bowl Meal Prep Like a Boss
Enlist help where you can.
Friends, family, you name it. Live alone and worried that you might end up with too much food? Invite a friend over to share in the prep responsibility and leftovers. Enlist a personal dishwasher from the family to help you in the kitchen because there’s no need for you to have to do it all alone. When all else fails, even keeping a trash bowl nearby is helpful in saving steps to and from the trash can which at the end of the day, saves time in the kitchen.
Meal Prep Made Easy with my Simply Swapped Everyday Cookbook!
Some of the most common questions I get asked revolve around easy recipes that are meal-prep friendly, types of recipes that are good for leftovers, and recipes that even the pickiest eater will enjoy.
This is why I created my signature cookbook, Simply Swapped Everyday, where I walk you through formulas to make cooking at home easier and share over 75 plant-powered recipes that are easily adaptable to any dietary lifestyle. This cookbook is designed with the everyday in mind as a way to share healthy alternatives to classic favorites without losing out on flavor. Most of the recipes in this book are meal prep friendly (and even freezer friendly!).